BART dispute fuels political platforms
on October 25, 2013
As negotiations dragged on in last week’s BART debacle, a raft of politicians stepped in hoping to build up their political capital around a new issue: transportation issues in the Bay Area.
Though Mayor Jean Quan was in China for some of the negotiation process, meeting with current and potential investors for the Brooklyn Basin project, her spokesperson, Sean Maher, described her as heavily involved, checking in on the negotiations “at least daily and sometimes multiple times daily.”
Maher added that Quan coordinated with Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner and Rob Bonta “to keep the pressure on both sides, advocating for the riders themselves, who have to be our first priority.”
Oakland is the only Bay Area city through which all five BART lines run.
In Orinda, councilmember Steve Glazer quickly took on the cause by lobbying in support of proposed Senate Bill 423, which, if passed, would make BART transit strikes illegal.
Since September, Glazer has circulated a petition via his personal website and also made personal visits to each BART station to gather signatures in support of the bill. He said he gained more than 1,000 signatures on Tuesday alone after the strike ended.
“People are appreciative that they have an outlet for their strong feelings in keeping the strike from happening again,” Glazer said.
Glazer is now aiming for the support of elected officials. He has a list of eight mayors who have said they stand with him—including ones in Pleasanton, Oakley and Brentwood—though Mayor Jean Quan is not among them.
“There hasn’t been any elected officials who have had the courage to speak up,” Glazer said, referring to state senators and representatives.
The endless back-and-forth negotiations ended Monday night in the wake of a growing drop in public support.
Under the new agreement, BART unions landed 15.4 percent in raises over a four-year period—which was 3.4 percent higher than the “last, best, final” offer that was put on the table almost a week prior to the agreement.
There is also potential for a $1,000 bonus if ridership increases past projections, and BART workers will commit part of their income to state pension funds for the first time. The rate will begin at one percent, and add an additional percent for each year of the contract, ending at four percent the final year. Finally, their insurance premiums are rising from $92 per month to $129 per month.
In an interview with NBC 11, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said BART’s original offer to the unions was “very generous.”
“You know, I was mayor of San Francisco for nine years and nine years a county supervisor, and I saw in those days, the 70s and partially in the 80s, a large number of public employee strikes,” Feinstein said. “They don’t work. They leave deep scar tissue.”
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